Tuesday, July 5, 2011

State Farm Not There

About two weeks ago, our town was hit by a storm that brought high winds and a class F1 tornado. Fortunately, no-one was injured, but a huge Pine tree that shaded our back yard was uprooted and landed on our house. To make things worse, we were without power for a few days until Com Ed got its act together, but more about that later. Surely, you must have heard the branding jingle that plays during all of State Farm's TV commercials, you know the one – "and like a good neighbor, State Farm is there". You've probably heard it a million times. Then, they show you how the agent magically arrives on the scene with a poof and a wish. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. I didn't hear from my agent until three days later, and I had to make several calls before I got through to the Catastrophic Claims Center in Jacksonville, FL. After a 45 minute wait on the phone listening to their stupid jingle, I finally got  through. The southern gentlemen who fielded my call explained what I should do to get the tree removed and what State Farm's limits typically were for a situation like mine. Although he was pleasant and knowledgeable, he did complain that they were working seven days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day. As a member of the ranks of the unemployed, I felt no sympathy for his cause.
  But it gets better. After going into my agent's office and telling him that I had not yet received a call from my adjuster, he promised to get on it right away for me. A short while later, I received a voice mail from my agent giving me the adjuster's name and phone number and he assured me that I would be receiving  a phone call from my adjuster shortly. The rest of the afternoon elapsed with no call from the adjuster. Finally, I called him that evening and was of course, directed to his voice mail. I did not hear back from the adjuster until almost a week after the storm, and when he did call back, he was less than enthusiastic about handling my claim. He took the necessary information with the demeanor of a robot, and then he informed me that State Farm doesn't cover Pine trees. What? RU kidding? We also had some damage to our roof and siding that I told him about. His response was the same. As we wrapped up our conversation, he told me that the earliest he could come out to assess the damage was July 20th. I thought he was joking but he was not. When I asked him if there was any possibility that he could come sooner, he said only if he had a cancellation. I told him that State Farm should hire more adjusters. He told me that they had thousands of adjusters in the field and that he had already made 97 phone calls that day. Not my problem I thought, but there was little I could do at that point other than to accept his schedule. 
  In short, the whole thing has left me with a bad taste in my mouth and no warm feelings toward State Farm. And Com Ed, the local power company wasn't much better. My neighbor still has a downed line in her yard, yet they restored power to her any way. So much for safety. All in all we survived, but it was in no way in part due to State Farm's rapid response they so often tout on TV. Here's a novel idea. Instead of spending millions on TV campaigns and PR, why not take that money and hire more adjusters and claims reps so they can actually deliver the kind of service they promise. And this whole incident underscores what is wrong with American business today. Put simply, the management just doesn't care. As long as the good old boys in the board room at State Farm get their million dollar bonuses, they don't really give a shit about their policy holders, and that's how I see it. And State Farm is supposed to be one of the most trusted names in the insurance industry. 
Can you imagine how they would respond to a hurricane or an earthquake? Let's hope we never have to find out.